Hi gang. Just arrived back in good ole Georgia last night from Victory cruise, Eastern Carribean, departing Miami July 24.
This is sort of long so if you haven't specific questions and don't want to read it, I'll check back on this thread for any specifics. This was my seventh cruise just for those who wonder if I'm a newbie. Third Carnival cruise.
Contrary to what I had heard from earlier posts a couple of months ago, The Victory is a beautiful ship, quite large, fairly well laid out (if you read your deck plan!!!) and had no trouble at all with rocking or stabilizers. This was the smoothest cruise we have ever had. Some rocking, but heck you are on a ship floating in the middle of the ocean. We were luckier than most of the recent cruisers I suppose because there were no hurricane to affect our water or our ports. Captain Carmelo Marino and cruise Director Dana Hodson.
Embarkation was awful to say the least. Don't think it is all Carnival's fault though. Port of Miami is going through some renovation and construction. Streets are blocked off everywhere. After embarking at Port Caneveral, Tampa and Vancouver, Miami was just the pits. We drove from Georgia to Miami, stopping over at Orlando to break up the trip (left a day early). Hampton Inn-Florida Mall location is a great place to stay over and it is only about 4 more hours into Miami and an easy drive on Florida Turnpike/I-95. Traffic was just awful getting into terminal. Hubby had to drop daughters and I off with luggage and drive back about 2 miles to parking. Explorer of Seas and Valor were both in port with Victory. We gave our luggage to a porter and had doubts that it would make it to ship since Valor was leaving the same time as Victory and all passengers and luggage were all out there together. Luggage did arrive while we were at 5:45 p.m. dinner. Quite timely I think. We arrived at port around 12:00 p.m. We snaked through the parking lot outside (very hot) and finally got into terminal building. We then snaked though another line to go through security. Snaked through another line to check in. Went upstairs only to snake through another line to get sign & sail. We then got our picture made and got on Victory. All in all took about 1-1/2 hours. There is air conditioning once you get in building, but you can't feel it because all doors are open. I felt sorry for folks with little ones. Miami could take lessons from Tampa Carnival cruise terminal folks. Maybe Miami/Carnival has a plan here! Hope so.
Once on ship, it was wonderful. Victory is beautiful. Also contrary to earlier posts, the crew is very friendly, helpful, wonderful. I just can't say enough. Because we had to get two rooms (our daughters are college age) and they had to be across from us (they are both under 25), and even though we made our reservations months ago, we had to get rooms on 2nd floor, Main forward. We were under the Caribbean Lounge and I was worried about hearing all the shows. It wasn't bad at all..........never bothered any of us. The kids running up and down the halls unsupervised did bother us though! That's another story. Didn't feel ships motion, nothing, I would get that room again. Did feel ships motion higher up and in Pacific Dining room aft................
Our cabin was HUGE! OV........No need for the over the door organizer (which I never unpacked). We had storage we NEVER used and I promise you I took everything! We were pleased. Beds comfortable. Don't know if these were new mattresses or not, but they were great. Down comforters too. Wonderful and I'm going out today to get us all one!!! Safe in room, shampoo and Lever 2000 body wash in showers.
We got early seating in Pacific dining room. Had a booth for four upstairs with a lovely view of dining room. I won't go into all the details, but our waiters and asst waiters were superb, food was excellent everywhere.......room steward was great and even did a wake up for our girls every morning after we left our cabin for breakfast.........Dino was maitre d and was the same guy we had on Sensation several years ago.
Shows were good especially the ones done by the Victory dancers and the Victory orchestra which were both wonderful. Geechy Guy, Carl Rimi can stay at home for all I care, although my hubby and girls went to the R rated Geechy Guy show at midnight and said he was better than the earlier show. We also heard Duke Daniels, the former lead singer from the Platters sung the last night on ship. He also did a comedy routine and he thoroughly enjoyed him, so did our daughters even though he was WAY before their time. Sold his CD's and autographed them.
The shops were nice, had some good prices, basic Carnival fare. We left some "change" at all the shops. The photographers weren't especially good, or maybe it was the subjects (HAHAHA!) They took all kinds of pics for folks and most of the ones we saw were studio quality. We did buy our embarkation pics though, even though it had been a horrible day by the time we got there we could actually see the doors to the ship and got re-energized and smiling our little hearts out!
I do have a couple of complaints that we passed on to Carnival. Our girls did get fountain cards (which have gone up substantially since we bought them several years ago on Sensation). Fountain cards aren't always readily acknowledged by bartenders (who don't get a gratutity from Coke sales). This was a complaint by a lot of people. I do suggest that you go to the "Up Close and Personal" talk with the crew. You find out a lot you didn't know AND you get to voice complaints. Dana Hodson, the cruise director for us, wrote down everything people complained about. Dana is going on 6 week leave with his fiancee (who also works for Carnival) to travel around Europe and visit her home country (Estonia). Dana's 12 year old son was sailing with him this cruise. Don't know who new CD is on Victory. We also had problems with unsupervised children running around the ship, jumping over people in the pools, and bringing ice cream, hamburgers, etc. into pools. Complaints are taken seriously by Carnival on this ship and by the 2nd day, security folks were onto those kids, running them away from pools with their food and asking where their parents were. Other guests also got into the act by reprimanding unruly children. I understand that they are on vacation too, but unsupervised kids are a pet peeve of mine. I never let my kids ruin other's vacations. People were bad about breaking in line, trying to squeeze in people into "saved" seats in Caribbean Lounge. We learned who these folks were and stayed away from them. Lounge chair hoggers were only bad on first day at sea. They all got sunburned in the ports and weren't anxious to get out on the other sea days. We found some chairs that had towels on them, no other personal stuff and people around them said they had been vacant all day........so we moved towles and sat! Perfectly fine.
Your complaints about constant announcements has been heard. Dana was real good about not hounding us about the art auction which seemed very low key. Heard no one talking about it..............maybe only heard four announcements the whole week. Announcements were very low key. No more announcing dinner, that kind of stuff......just important stuff.
Other problem which is minor..........there is no coffee in any area forward except at the lobby bar. There you have to pay for it. If you want a cup of coffee in the a.m. or afternoon with a good book, you have to tromp up to the 9th floor and tromp back down with it. Saw one guy with a Thermos................smart fellow! Pursuers desk said they are considering doing free coffee at the lobby bar (a wonderful place to sit and listen to the music) Fabulous piano player. Didn't care for Scottee in Irish Bar. Plays wonderfully, not a real good singer, but gets real up close and personal with patrons in there if you like that kind of stuff.
Ionian Lounge had a great trio, the Three Mikes..............Internet Cafe is located here too, but beware Ionian Lounge is a smoking area, cigars are sold there too.........Smelled good to walk through.......Had no problem at all with smokers on this ship. No where, no how..........All the lounges and bars are very nice and servers are very attentive.
Secrets............on the lobby deck next to the pursers office, there are some double doors that open onto a walking area of the ship with lounge chairs with cushions. Another great locale to read and relax. Reminded me of the shots from the movie Titantic where people are walking about on the outside decks. Didn't discover this until last day at sea. Deck 5 is the deck that you can walk pretty much all the way forward and all the way aft. The ship is cut off in the middle by the dining rooms. Deck 5 is Promonade deck, bars casino are here. Also a great coffee shop for specialty coffees, frappucinos and elaborate desserts as well as cookies. There is an extra charge for these items, but well worth it. Great white chocolate mocachacino. (excuse spelling, I was too busy drinking it to get the spelling down right)!!!
We did get invited to a past cruisers cocktail party. Got a cute pin with Carnival Victory on it too. I think the drinks were made from powdered mixes though, but I never refused one!!!!!!!! Drink of the day were always good, we did the refillable drink thing. They refill them around pool and in lounges. Not drink of the day, but I'd highly recommend "Kiss on the lips" and "Miami Vice".
Carnival has listened to complaints about the omelette stations holding up breakfast lines and has special lines for omlette making now. Wish they would do on Victory what they did on Inspiration though. Have a separate area for making salads and for fruit. People hold up the line picking through for just the perfect lettuce leaves and melon slices....................a separate area would be great since there are only about 3400 people on this ship.
Ports-------you can just forget San Juan. We did not enjoy this port. Explorer of the Seas was there with us and we talked to some folks getting back on that ship. Said it was too hot and nothing but a few jewelry stores. They were pretty much right. We went to Senor Frogs and bought four drinks at a cost of $40.00. We decided that $20 for a burrito rice and beans was a little high so we walked around, not impressed, got a frappicino at Starbucks, made some phone calls (verizon has service here) and got back on ship where our wonderful waiters had great food ready for us.
St. Maarten was wonderful. I can't say enough about the friendliness of this town. We rented a Jeep 4x4 from BestCars (I think that's right nice people) and rode around both sides of the island. The shopping downtown is wonderful and is more than just jewelry stores. (We decided that Diamonds International pays entirely too much of a promotional fee to Carnival) When you've got kids, they get bored looking in jewelry stores all day long.
St. Thomas was awful we thought. We were uncomfortable as the smell of "Woodstock" was in the air every where we went. The merchants have people outside with signs bugging you to come in, following you, wanting to braid your hair, etc. OK, I may make folks mad here, but we had booked with Godfrey who came highly recommended. Well, he forgot us. (I had email confirmation, even when Victory reversed it's itinerary). We were to meet him at 10:00. Got outside the ship at 9:30. Walked around looking for him holding the sign with our name on it. Saw him leaving the port area (he has his name on the side of his truck). He apologized and said he filled up his truck between Mariner of the Seas and Zuiderdam but would have another truck where we weren't six to a seat. I don't know if these other folks had reservations or not. I just know we weren't late. He put us on another truck with a "friend" of his. His name was Renaldo and was a nice enough fellow. Turns out, Renaldo's truck was full too but don't know if they were Renaldo's folks or Godfrey's folks. We followed his tour around in the truck but didn't really get Godfrey's tour except when we stopped. We went to the lunch place Godfrey recommended in St. Thomas and it took an hour to get four hamburgers and four cokes while people all around us were being served. Cost about $50..........Renaldo laughed when we told him where we went. He said, Mon did it take you an hour to get it?" .......We then were told that everyone on Godfrey's truck wanted to go to Coki Beach and if we wanted to go somewhere else, his "friend" would have to stay with us. So of course, our guilt got to us and we went to Coki. Again, horrible. A fellow ran out to Godfrey's truck to take us all to a special place..............This beach is little, not clean, although water is clear. Godfrey's friend at Coki who had his jeans tied up with a rope took us to a place in front of his "friends" bar (I guess you would call it that), where we got to pay $5.00 for each chair, $10 for an umbrella and $1.00 every time we went to the bathroom or had to change.....The bathroom had no ceiling, no light and was absolutely filthy inside and out.....again the smell of Woodstock permeated the air. In the words of my Grandmother, we felt like we got "hind tit" by Godfrey. Godfrey may not have even known that his "friend" took us down to the end of the beach in front of another friends so called bar. This isn't a pretty beach, the area around it is full of old broken down cars and pieces parts of trucks that have been formed into buildings............I'm sorry to sound so critical here, but we just weren't expecting this. We finally just left and went back to the building where Coral World is and waited on our truck. We talked to people back on the ship who went to Magens Bay and paid $3.00 to get in and said it was beautiful, clean, wonderful, no riff raff....just took a taxi from the ship there.....If I had it to do over again, and this is for others who are sailing on Victory................get a taxi to the shopping area and if you want to go to a beach, try Magens. The city tour was OK, but I'd rather spend four hours at a beautiful beach. Two hours wasn't enough for the hassle we went through. Again, Godfrey may not even know some of this because we didn't see him again after he dropped the truck loads off at Coki. We paid Renaldo when we dropped us off at Victory. If I wanted to book a tour, I think I'd book Sunny Liston. We saw him several times and his group looked to be having a great time. Did not see his truck at Coki.
We did self disembark and we were off the ship by 8:52 a.m. This is a little disorganized and although Carnival people try to keep it organized, people push their limits about following rules. I'd suggest that you stay in your rooms, with your luggage, and when the announcement is made that the ship has cleared and is ready for self-disembarkers, I would wait on an elevator or schlep your stuff up or down the stairs and leave from your room. You get on and off at Miami on Deck 3 Lobby. At ports you disembark and embark on Deck 0. Going to the Caribbean Lounge is just a bit disorganized. You have a window of one hour to self-disembark and this is plenty of time to wait on an elevator if you have lots of luggage. It does however, hinder your room steward a bit on cleaning up your room, just remember that part.....................
I'll be glad to answer any specifics and hope I haven't bored you with this review.